Seven areas across England are set to pilot digital services for mental health patients, which will include innovative apps to improve care and online access to real-time patient records.
NHS England has announced new funding for seven mental health trusts to enable these organisations to pioneer world-class, digital services to improve care for patients experiencing mental health issues.
This will include, for the first time, all key professionals involved in a patient’s care having access to real-time records – from triage and initial assessment, through to admissions or referrals, as well as transfer between services and follow up care.
The trusts will also develop remote, mobile and assistive technologies to empower patients to manage their conditions and enable family and carers to provide the best possible support.
The trusts will have up to £70 million to invest in digital services – consisting £35 million with additional match funding from themselves of £35 million – in order to become ‘Global Digital Exemplars for Mental Health’.
This is intended to ensure that the organisations become world-leading in the use of IT, providing knowledge and expertise to the wider NHS in order to reduce time and costs for others.
This is all part of the NHS’ plan to harness technology to improve services and become more efficient.
With this in mind, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust is developing an app, with Stanford University, to anticipate and respond to serious self-harm and suicide risks.
A prototype has been developed and researchers are preparing a feasibility study to explore the usability of the technology and how the digital platform performs against treatment as usual.
Meanwhile, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust has moved from multiple patient record systems to one system across the organisation.
Mobile access to the patient record system will be rolled out to enable staff in the community to access and update a patient’s records.
They will also be improving their overall digital infrastructure, including improving wifi access across its estate, and will be developing mobile apps to improve services for patients and carers.
And Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is looking to deliver digital patient services including online consultations and enabling patients to access their records, complete assessments and provide feedback on-line.
The Trust’s digital offering will complement traditional face to face services.
Finally, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust will be working in partnership with the University of Oxford to develop an online platform for people experiencing a range of conditions (including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety) to receive tried-and-tested psychological therapies on their computer or mobile phone.
Professor Keith McNeil, NHS Chief Clinical Information Officer, believes that the initiative will have a massively positive impact on the NHS.
“As clinicians, we must embrace technology to help us deliver the best care to our service users, just as it helps us in so many other areas of our lives. Digital technology has the potential to transform people’s experience of mental health services and challenge the unacceptable boundaries between physical and mental health. I am excited by this investment across a wide range of services and technologies and the opportunity it presents to provide both improved experience and outcomes for service users across the country.”